Handheld Learning 2007, Day 1, Opening Session, part I


First session of Handheld Learning 2007, the room is packed, just as the underground was earlier this morning. Graham started off by talking about how things have changed over the years, from a large “mobile phone” in the 1980s to today’s iPhone, and how advanced technologies are being used by younger and younger kids all the time. He showed an example of his 2-year-old daughter training a virtual dog (which begs the question: is there something being lost here or gained? Is she losing out on interacting with real pets or is she getting an opportunity to do something she can’t in real life? It also goes back to a quote by John Naisbitt about the danger of technology becoming an obstacle to experiences our lives as we live them:

Technology distracts us with its promise to document. … Do cameras document life’s most important events, or do they distract us from experiencing the emotions, the sights, the sounds of the occasion? Perhaps they cause us to actually miss the moment rather than capture it. Just owning a camcorder or camera may make us feel compelled to use it, then archive the images. We have become a documentary society, but to what end? (Naisbitt (2001), High Tech, High Touch, p. 30))

Graham is followed by a series of keynote speakers. The audience can text questions to the moderator while the speakers present. Pretty cool.

First, a speech by Jim Knight, UK Minister of State for Schools and Learning of the Department for Children, Schools and Families. No real news here, mostly talked about how kids are growing up in a multimedia society, the investment of the British government in ICT, and the increasing importance of personalized learning for kids, engaging parents (to keep kids safe on the www), and closing the achievement gap. He finished by showing a video about how (mobile) technology has changed to enable learning, communication, anytime/anywhere appropriate access.

Next up, Stephen Crowne from BECTA (slideshow is here). He discussed BECTA’s priorities in getting to

  • universal access
  • online safety
  • improved use of technology by schools and colleges
  • improved use of technology to support personalization of learning
  • saving money (of course)
  • securing solid technology policy.

He also discussed some of the challenges:

  • Building of e-maturity in education is slow
  • Technology/technical hurdles
  • Current progress in learning and teaching is only about enhancing existining practices, not transforming them
  • New practice that works happens in isolated pockets (I think that’s true everywhere).
  • Learner access to devices, connectivity, tools, resourcers, networks

Crowne continued by laying out steps to take next:

Looking at what’s important: ed systems must be responsive to what learners bring with them and the world we’re preparing learners for (he’s quoting Diane Oblinger of Educause here).

Effective learning: successful learning being based on construction, conversation, and control (Mike Sharples)

Importance of building new practices for teaching and learning as well as supporting policies.

Personal access to technology: supports a vision of learning to engage with curriculum and resources beyond school, extend learning in a variety of ways, support families in supporting their children’s learning.

Crowne continued by showing a pretty useful chart of how to improve learning with technology through:

  • Exchange
  • Enhance
  • Enrich
  • Extend
  • Empower

He also showed three videos to support extension, enhancement, and empowerment. What I’m wondering though is how the first two were good examples of personalization though, as they show teachers telling all kids to do the same things at the same time.

Finally, how to make personalization work?

  • develop underpinning ICT maturity
  • new approaches to teaching and learning, and learning relationships
  • effective dialogue with the ICT supply side
  • new skills and competencies for learners and teaching professionals (develop where and how?)
  • understanding what’s possible and works, and share this (what is an effective way to do this?)At this point, texting of questions to the moderator failed….. :(. I wonder why they’re not using other channels, like Twitter.The next sessions are from international speakers, which I’m putting in a separate post.What did I take away from the first two speakers? Nothing really new under the sun with regard to mobile technology; however, both speakers showed how in the UK the government is much more involved with and dedicated to improving ICT in education in a systematic way.

2 responses to “Handheld Learning 2007, Day 1, Opening Session, part I

  1. Pingback: iThinkEd » Handheld Learning Conference, Day One

  2. I was posting to Jaiku troughout the three days. A twitter or jaiku feed to the screen might have helped.

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